Democratic leaders rallied voters across the state Monday to encourage early voting ahead of the Nov. 6 midterm election.

Democrats crowded the second floor of the Des Moines County Courthouse Monday morning as they lined up outside the auditor's office to cast some of the first votes of the 2018 midterm election.

The effort was part of a statewide push from the Iowa Democratic Party and its local branches to energize their supporters on Iowa's first day of early voting, 29 days from the Nov. 6 election.

Troy Price, chairman of the Iowa Democratic Party, rallied about two dozen people outside the Port of Burlington before they walked up the block to the Main Street courthouse.

"What matters today is not just casting your vote, what matters today is making sure that you go out there and talk to your friends and neighbors," said Price.

Terri Johnson, Des Moines County auditor, said as of Monday morning the office had received more than 1,298 requests for absentee ballots.

"I can tell you, from what I'm seeing, from what I'm hearing, from what I'm feeling on the ground, if we get our people out we are going to win up and down the ballot," Price said.

Price was not the only Democratic leader commanding crowds Monday.

Congressman Dave Loebsack, Iowa's 2nd District representative, was at the Johnson County campaign office in Iowa City; gubernatorial candidate Fred Hubbell was in Des Moines, while his running mate, state Sen. Rita Hart, visited voters in Nevada.

U.S. Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey, considered to be a potential 2020 presidential candidate, joined secretary of agriculture candidate Tim Gannon in Adel.

Booker has been in Iowa since Saturday when he was the keynote speaker at the Iowa Democratic Party Fall Gala in Des Moines.

Not only do Des Moines County voters have candidates to choose from for the state Legislature and Congress, a seat on the board of supervisors also is contested.

"This is a majorly important election," said Brice Hughes, pastor at Zion United Church of Christ in Burlington. "The Republican Party has skewed the country so terribly away from our values."

For Hughes, the lack of citizen participation in elections also was disheartening.

"There's an expression about 'use it or lose it.' If you don't participate in voting, you're at risk of losing that privilege," he said.

The last time a midterm election was held, Nov. 4, 2014, 48.7 percent of the county's 28,233 registered voters cast ballots. Statewide, 53.3 percent of Iowa's 1.9 million active voters participated in that election.

Jaan Sturgis, who recently moved to Burlington from the Quad Cities, said abortion access and education funding were motivating factors driving his vote.

"The way that education is funded in Iowa basically does not ensure equity across the state," said Sturgis, as he stood on the courthouse steps before voting.

Sample ballots now are available to view on the county website or at the auditor's office.